Unlike takedowns and guard passes, sweeps are harder to categorize. Fighters have highly developed guards that often blur the lines between textbook positions and straightforward sweeps. What starts as a hook sweep from butterfly guard may end as a backroll from half guard. A fighter may move from half guard to DLR to sitting up guard to butterfly guard to a hook sweep then standing into a single leg (and all that in about 3 seconds.)
This “blending” becomes a defining aspects of most sweeps. They are rarely “one shot” moves (though some are), but the result of off-balancing and dynamic motions in many different directions before finishing.
Here is my tally and my best attempt at categorizing the moves:
- HOOK Marcelo in reverse half guard (top guy switched base to face legs) gets a hook sweep.
- OVERHEAD Braulio gets an overhead (tomoe nage) sweep from DLR (like he did as a brown belt in 2003 Pan Am.)
- STANDING UP (LEG ON SHOULDER) Half guard with waiter sweep positioning. Wedge in rear knee to standing with leg on shoulder.
- HOOK / BACKROLL Hook sweep from half butterfly guard to backroll sweep.
- Telles gets a weird sweep from under turtle by stepping out behind the top guy and circling behind as he stands up and tosses his opponent down.
- HOOK / SINGLE LEG Butterfly hook sweep to single leg with wrist passed between legs.
- STANDING UP (PICKING UP ANKLE) Marcelo doing one-legged (leglock) guard, rocking back and forth until he stands up with a grip on the ankle.
- HOOK Marcelo going from half to half butterfly hook sweep, landing in mount.
- STANDING UP (PICKING UP ANKLES) Marcelo going from butterfly to x-guard, rock them back and standing, holding their legs in the air.
- BACKROLL Roger does a backroll sweep from half guard on Marcelo and lands in mount.
- Roger Gracie gets several of his sweeps versus combat bases where he has his guard locked and he just twists them back and rises. They often try to leglock him (like Marcelo tries) but it never goes far.
- Roger is finishing a cross knee pass with a collar grip, and Marcelo rolls him over like magic.
- OMOPLATA Cross grip to omoplata backspin sweep (backwards somersault with hips to shoulder).
- UNDERHOOK LEG Closed guard sweep by underhooking the leg and twisting as they stand, landing in mount.
- SPIN UNDER / STANDING UP DLR/RDLR to invert between the legs and stand up in the scramble.
- BACKROLL Backroll sweep from half guard.
- STANDING UP (PICKING UP ANKLE) Butterfly guard/sitting guard to standing up with the ankle.
- SPIN UNDER Yuki Nakai does RDLR to spinning between the legs and taking the back before anyone knew how cool it was.
- HOOK / STANDING UP Hook sweep from butterfly guard with grip on the knee to standing up.
- UNDERHOOK LEG Closed guard, opponent stands, twist and underhook far leg and sweep.
- Butterfly guard to anklelock and getting on top as they defend.
- Marcelo rising up into a double leg from sitting butterfly guard.
- Marcelo does a shin sweep (grabbing the ankle) from butterfly.
- HOOK Xande gets an overhook and grabs the belt while standing, then sits into butterfly guard and hook sweeps.
- HOOK SWEEP / STANDING UP Half guard to butterfly hook sweep to standing up and running them over.
- SINGLE LEG Two half/quarter guard with underhook to single leg.
- BACKSPIN DLR backspin sweep to the outside.
- BACKSPIN DLR spin, get sat on, get on top while defending loose kneebar.
- OMOPLATA Omoplata by pulling ankle over face, cranking the arm by hand until they roll, end sitting on the arm.
- HOOK Half guard to DLR to sitting guard to hook sweep.
- Terere gets a triangle on a big guy and underhooks the leg to sweep when they posture.
- OMOPLATA Terere gets an omoplata from double sleeve open guard that turns into a sweep.
- STANDING UP Terere gets feet on biceps and spins around a lot until they are off balance and he can jump on top.
- Inverting from butterfly guard to kneebar sweep.
Here are the lessons I’m taking from this:
1. If you have the chance to stand up, do it, and take their legs with you.
Sometimes this is more deliberate, like working up to a single leg from half guard. Other times it’s just spotting a split second opportunity to jump up in the scramble and run them backwards.
2. Play your guards in combination.
Be able to easily move between a series of guards that share grips and strategies. These guards need to have answers for the major guard pass strategies like the over-under and cross knee.
3. Do your sweeps in combination.
Similar to the last point, be able to switch between sweeps (and even guards) in the middle of a sweep. Make them worry about many directions at once, and be ready to commit to the sweep when it’s time (or just stand up.)
4. Fear of submissions makes your sweeps easier.
Omoplatas and even some leglocks make for good sweeps because they contain an element of “this can end the fight.” People will concede sweeps if they are afraid of a submission. Like the earlier points all stress, you need to see the right moment to get on top rather than staying on the submission (or possibly doing both.)